Mother of infant killed by pit bull talks to the press
When Brenda Villasin dropped her 9-month-old daughter at her grandmother's house for the day early Wednesday morning, she kissed the sleeping baby's feet and said goodbye.
It was the last time she'd see little Liana alive.
Several hours later, Villasin got a call from a relative telling her something horrible had happened to her daughter. Panicked, she sped down I-95 "at 100 miles an hour," from her job in Pompano Beach to the home of her baby's paternal grandmother in Miramar.
When she arrived, Villasin found police. Her daughter was dead, they told her, killed by a family dog while she sat in a child's bouncy chair.
"I am numb right now, '' said Villasin, 24, in a tear-filled interview outside the grandmother's house. "She was the best thing to ever happen to me."
Miramar police say Liana, who liked to watch cartoons and eat sweet potatoes, was killed by a pit bull, a breed of dog whose attacks on people led Miami-Dade County to ban the animal nearly 30 years ago. The male dog, one of three in the house, was 3 or 4 years old and had lived with the family since it was a puppy.
A little more than four hours after Villasin dropped off her baby, police said they received a 911 call at 11:30 a.m. about a household pet attacking a child in a home on Kingston Drive. The child was in a bouncy chair in the bedroom when she was attacked, they said.
Miramar Fire Rescue declared the little girl, identified by her mother as Liana Valino, dead on the scene. Her body was carried out of the family's house by a Broward County Medical Examiner's Office employee, cradled against his chest and draped with a red blanket.
Villasin said Liana lived with her, but she dropped her baby off at her grandmother's on mornings when she didn't attend daycare, and the baby regularly spent days in her grandmother's home. Police say it was Liana's grandmother, the mother of the baby's father, who was the adult caregiver in the home at the time of the attack.
All three dogs were loaded into an animal services truck and taken away. It was not clear whether the dog who attacked the baby would be put down.
Deadly dog attacks are unusual but by no means rare in South Florida. Four years ago, 4-year-old Javon Dade Jr. was mauled by a pit bull in his father's backyard in south Miami-Dade after slipping out the back door. Nyjah Espinosa was just shy of her second birthday when she was killed by the family pet.
Nationally, an average of 33 people are killed each year in canine attacks in the United States, according to dogsbite.org, a victims' advocacy site that culls media reports and public records to track dog attacks. The site, which advocates for a pit bull ban, says two-thirds of the attacks are committed by the breed.
The entire 2400 block of Kingston Drive was blocked off with crime scene tape Wednesday afternoon as investigators went in and out of the single family home. Next door, a neighbor who gave his name as Norman said he had been in the family's home and was familiar with the dogs, who often ran around in the backyard. He said the dogs weren't overly friendly, but at the same time he'd never noticed the animals behaving aggressively or threateningly.
Villasin told reporters outside the house that she wasn't blaming the breed.
"I still don't feel any type of way about a pit bull," she said.